northern Victoria and the Southern Riverina
Plants of the Bendigo Whipstick
suitable for plantations and garden cultivation
This page lists and describes some of the many plants indigenous to the Greater Bendigo National Park. Another page has an annotated list which has been supplemented by plants found north of Bendigo into the southern Riverina of NSW.
Many of these plants are suitable for garden cultivation. Many are suitable for wind breaks. Some are suitable for agro-forestry projects.
Residents of the area are urged to include at least some local plants in their garden. Many of the plants listed grow well outside of the region. Some grow too well outside the region! Some Melaleucas, for example, have become a problem in places such as the Florida Everglades in the United States of America. And some eucalypts have become a problem in other places.
By planting plants of our own region we
are providing a habitat for native birds and insects, and maintaining
something of the character of our region. This is particularly
important on farmland and near bushland. By 'planting local'
we are also helping maintain the balance of nature. Local plants
are usually resistant to local insect pests and may therefore
be easier to grow. Furthermore, local plants cannot become garden
escapes, environmental weeds, which may be costly to remove from
riversides and bushland. Some introduced plants, even some from
other parts of Australia, can become environmental weeds or may
demand precious water and fertilisers. Growing indigenous plants
helps conserve biological diversity. Most urban gardens consist
almost entirely of non-local plants: continue to grow attractive
introduced and non-local plants by all means, avoiding plants which might become garden escapes (weeds), but consider changing
the blend to include at least some plants of your local area.
Here are just a few of the outstanding plants which grow in the forests around Bendigo
and which are suitable for cultivation. Common names vary so it may be wise to use the scientific (botanical) name when ordering or looking for these plants.
Wattle Acacia acinacea (Height 2 metres; width 2 metres)
Light tip pruning helps prevent the plant from getting 'woody'.
• Rough Wattle Acacia aspera (2m by 2m). Masses of yellow balls in Spring.
• Ausfield's Wattle Acacia ausfieldii (3m by 2m). This is a lovely wattle but it is sparse, prefers gravelly soils, semi-shade and protection from wind.
• Grey Mulga (Acacia brachybotrya) (3m by 3m). This is a tall shrub with silvery-grey leaves and yellow ball flowers in late Winter. It prefer light and sandy soils. Drought tolerant. More common in the Kamarooka section than in the Whipstick section of the Greater Bendigo National Park.
Wattle Acacia flexifolia (2m by 2m)
Pale lemon flower balls cover the plant in late Winter and/or early Spring. Very common in parts of the Wellsford Forest north-east of Bendigo.
• Mallee Wattle Acacia montana (2m by 2m). Mallee Wattle forms a dense shrub with bright yellow flowers from late Winter. It is widely available from native nurseries and is a good plant for a wide garden bed.
• Golden Wattle Acacia pycnantha (4m by 2m). This hardy wattle is Australia's floral emblem. Bright golden balls cover the plant in late Winter. Avoid planting close to a fence or house.
Wattle Acacia williamsonii (2m by 3m)
This wattle grows in the wild only in and near the Whipstick. It is prolific in much of the eastern half of the Kamarooka section of the Greater Bendigo National Park but has been adversely impacted upon by prolonged drought conditions. Grows well in local home gardens.
• Silver Banksia Banksia marginata (4 to 10m by 2 to 4m). This attractive plant has large cream bottle-brush like flowers over a long period. It seems to prefer sandy soils and struggles during extended dry periods.
• Sticky Boronia Boronia anemonifolia (2m by 2m). The flowers of this boronia are pink stars rather than brown balls.It is much better able to withstand our climate than the Brown Boronia of Western Australia.
Sweet Bursaria Bursaria spinosa ((3m by 2m)
This thorny shrub attracts butterflies and protects small birds. In summer, it has small white flowers which have a pleasant perfume. Suitable for garden cultivation.
• Common Fringe-myrtle Calytrix tetragona (2m by 1m). Favouring sandy soil, this erect shrub has small white and pink flowers over a long period. It is ideal for the home garden and readily available in most local plant nurseries.
• Rock Correa Correa glabra (2m by 2m). Often growing at the base of rocky outcrops, this small shrub bears green bells over Summer.
Common Eutaxia Eutaxia microphylla (1m high; spreading)
Similar to Daviesia and Pultenaea, this low shrub bears yellow and red pea-like flowers during Spring. Quite a good garden plant.
• Crowea Crowea exalata (1m by 1m). What an excellent plant this is for a small garden or rockery. It has pink orchid-like flowers and narrow, waxy, leaves.
• Hop Bush Dodonaea viscosa (2m by 2m). There are wide and narrow-leafed varieties of this species which bears red or brown hops over Summer, followed by brown pods which not everyone will find attractive. It is a hardy plant and tolerates clay soils. It is a very common plant in much of the inland. Many graziers do not like it because it is not palatable to stock and can take over grazing land. Once a few are established in local home gardens, this plant is self-seeding.
Cat's Claws Grevillea alpina (1m by 1m)
Suitable for garden or pot. Many forms or sub-species are available. Good drainage essential. Do not over-water over summer.
• Needlewood Hakea decurrens (3m by 2m). Needlewood, as its name suggests, has spiky leaves which make it ideal for placers where people may cut corners. Youngsters who dive in to retrieve a ball will exit backwards at a fast pace! The spider-like cream flowers appear early in Spring. Hardy once established. It is common at the base of One Tree Hill and in less-disturbed parts of the park.
• Austral Indigo Indigofera australia (2m by 2m). An open shrub with grey-green leaflets and pink pea-like flowers from mid Winter.
Bush Lasiopetalum behrii (2m by 2m)
• Whipstick Tea Tree Leptospermum myrsinoides (2m by 2m). This Tea Tree has masses of white flowers in Spring. It can be used as a hedge.
• Totem Poles (aka Cross-leaf Honey-myrtle) Melaleuca decussata (2m by 3m). As tough as. This dense shrub is suitable as a hedge or windbreak. It bears mauve totem-pole like flowers during Summer.
Honey Myrtle Melaleuca uncinata (3m by 3m). This hardy shrub can withstand some salinity and flooding.
Wilson's (aka Violet) Honey
Myrtle Melaleuca wilsonii (2m by 3m). This shrub bears violet bottlebrush-like flowers late in Spring. It is a very shrub for local gardens. Drought tolerant and can withstand some flooding.
Bendigo Wax Philotheca verrucosa (1.5m by 1.5m). Formerly known as Eriostemon verrucosa, Bendigo Wax has waned in popularity over recent years, possibly because it has proved hard to establish in the garden. Hardy when established, but constant light pruning is recommended to maintain bushiness. It flowers for a long period and the flowers last well in a vase of water.
Bush Prostanthera aspalathoides(1m by 1m). This small shrub is very attractive when in flower over Spring. Unlike most Mint Bushes, this species tolerates dry periods well.
Bush Prostanthera denticulata (1m by 1m). This small shrub has mauve flowers over Spring. Unlike most Mint Bushes, this species tolerates dry periods well.
Cassia (aka Punty Bush) Senna artemisioides ssp. zygophylla; formerly called Cassia eremophylla) may be mistaken for a wattle because yellow
flowers cover it in Spring. But the flowers are larger and of
a different shape. Seed pods cover the plant after flowering. A hardy, compact shrub, it grows to a metre
or so in height and width. It can be lightly pruned. Water young plants
a few times at increasing intervals. Very hardy once established.
Westringia (Rare) Westringia crassifolia(1m by 1m). This tiny shrub is rare and efforts are underway to help protect it in the wild. In places, both on public and private land, substantial fences have been constructed to protect it from grazing animals and vehicles. It may be grown as a rockery plant.
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To help identify trees of the region, a pocket guide by Leon Costermans, Trees of Victoria and Adjoining Areas, is a terrific guide.
Some of the trees which grow in Greater Bendigo National Park are listed below. Height and width may vary greatly from the dimensions given, according to soil type, aspect and other factors.
• Silver Wattle Acacia dealbata (20m by 15m). Suckering wattle which is most common along water courses. It often grows in the same places as River Red Gum. Older specimens tend to dry during dry periods to be replaced by suckers. Not ideal for the home garden.
• Drooping She-oak Allocasuarina verticillata (5m by 3m approximately). An attractive small tree (or large shrub) with drooping branches.
Bull Mallee Eucalyptus behriana (5m or higher) This mallee eucalypt has dark bark and broad, shiny, green leaves. Like all mallee eucalypts, is usually multi-stemmed.
• Kamarooka Mallee Eucalyptus froggattii (5 to 10 m by 5m). Restricted to the Kamarooka and Whipstick forests and a few other localities in Victoria (e.g. near Charlton and near Horsham), this mallee has narrow dark-green leaves and a dark bark, smooth greyish and ribbony away from the base.
• Yellow Gum (aka White Ironbark) Eucalyptus leucoxylon (5 to 30m by about 12m), This tall tree related to the ironbarks rather than gums has multi-coloured bark and white to cream flowers from late Autumn into Summer. Variety 'rosea' has red flower, is widely cultivate, attracts nectar-eating birds and is an excellent street tree.
• Yellow Box Eucalyptus melliodora 12 to 30m by s12 to 30m). This tree is highly regarded for the honey bees produce from its nectar. Its species name, melli-odora, means sweet smell. It is usually found growing on good quality loamy soils.
• Red Box Eucalyptus polyanthemos (about 25m by 20m). Red Box is easy to distinguish from Grey Box and Black Box because of the largish, round leaves. It is suitable as a shade tree in a park or farm.
• Blue Mallee Eucalyptus polybractea (8m by 6m).This mallee can be distinguished from the others by its greyish foliage. The grey leaves have a bluish tinge. This is one of the mallee eucalypts which was once cut for eucalyptus oil. In fact there is still a distillery in the forest. It is suitable for the home garden if planted well away from the house and from boundary fences.
• Ironbark Eucalyptus tricarpa (30m by 15m). The Bendigo area species of Ironbark was formerly known as Eucalyptus sideroxylon. This tree can be readily identified by the vertical furrows in its dark bark. An iconic tree, it sometimes produces an abundance of flowers and nectar which attract many birds, including Swift Parrot, lorikeets and honeyeaters. It thrives in gravelly soils and prefers dry conditions. Whilst Ironbark is common in much of the Whipstick, it is far less common in the Kamarooka Forest to the north and absent from much of that northern section of the park. It is sometimes used as a shade tree in parks.
Green Mallee Eucalyptus viridis (10m by 5m approximately). This mallee eucalypt may develop several slender stems. It has narrow, shining, dark green leaves. It is very hardy. This is another of the mallee eucalypts which was once cut for eucalyptus oil. Do not plant close to the property boundary in case in gets larger than expected and annoys neighbours. Suitable for medium and larger gardens.
• Weeping Pittosporum Pittosporum angustifolium (4m by 2m)
are familiar with Pittosporum undulatum or Mock Orange.
it is regarded as a weed in local bushland. P. undulatum is not indigenous to our region but comes from bushland along Australia's east coast. Weeping Pittosporum, which is found not just around Bendigo but over a wide area of inland Australia and even grows in depressions on the Nullarbor Plain It is a leaner tree with narrow leaves and a drooping habit.
Weeping Pittosporum grows over three metres high. Initially, it
is not very wide but suckers may sprout, giving it more width. It can
be grown alongside, but a few metres away from, a boundary fence.
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Ground covers, herbs and grasses
Flame Heath Astroloma conostephioides (prostrate)
Heath Astroloma humifusum (0.2m)
• Pink Fairies Caladenia spp.are tiny native orchids which flower in Spring from a subterranium tuber.
They are unlikely to survive if taken from the wild (which is
illegal anyway). Appreciate these in the field. Experts can grow them in pots.
• Clustered Everlasting Chrysocephalum semipapposum (0.75 by 0.5m). Formerly known as Helichrysum semipapposum, this everlasting tends to sucker and cover large areas. It is a good garden plant and widespread in some parts of the park. It is particularly common in Red Gum forests along the Murray River and in Box forests like Terrick Terrick National Park.
Red Correa Correa reflexa rubra (1m.)
Red fuschia-like bells over a long period.
Small Crowea Crowea exalata (1m by 1m). This tiny shrub has narrow waxy leaves and attractive pink star-like flowers over the six warmer months. An excellent plant for a small garden or rockery.
Black-anther Flax-lily Dianella admixta (0.75m by 0.75m). Formerly known as Dianella revoluta, this robust perennial has leaves resembling those of an Agapanthus. It too has blue flowers but they are not as conspicuous. The blue flowers are followed by blue berries in summer. A very good plant for a narrow garden.
• Rosy Heath
Myrtle Euromyrtus ramosissima (0.3m by 0.2m.)
Mauve flowers cover this prostrate plant during Spring. Following good Winter rains, this plant can blanket the ground in much of the GBN Park. This plant was formerly called Baeckea ramosissima. Included here because it is sometimes very conspicuous on the forest floor, this attractive plant is, unfortunately, difficult to grow in cultivation.
• Heath Myrtle Micromyrtus ciliata (1m by 2m). This is a showy plant when it is covered in small, white to pink flowers in Spring.
• Common Tussock Grass Poa labillardierei (1m by 1m). Native grasses are becoming increasingly popular in gardens. Most are very hardy and recover from dry periods very well. Like many other native grasses, Common Tussock Grass is suitable for landscaping around a pool, in small roadside roundabouts or in a rockery. It is particularly effective when mass planted.
Black-eyed Susan (Pink Bells) Tetratheca ciliata (Height: 0.3m)
Suitable as a container plant. It is illegal to take these from the bush or from roadsides.
• Kangaroo Grass Themeda triandra (formerly Triandra australis). Kangaroo Grass is a tussocky perennial that is, possibly because it is favoured by grazing animals, becoming increasingly uncommon in the wild.
• Native Violet Viola hederacea. In moist soil, the Native Violet may appear. It is a spreading ground cover that produces white flowers with purple centres. Its leaves are smaller than those of the introduced Violet.
• Tall Native Bluebell Wahlenbergia stricta. Blue stars appear on thin stems from perennial rootstock.
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When growing indigenous plants in a garden,
don't assume that indigenous plants require neither maintenance
nor watering during dry times. Most natives do.
And don't fall into the
trap of planting too many trees and large shrubs, especially near
fences and the house! Big trees on town blocks may mean
tree-removalists may have to be employed one day. Leave room,
especially near the front of a garden, for the small, hardy, colourful
Native grasses can add interest to your garden but introduced
weeds will need to be weeded or kept at bay with mulch, e.g. sawdust
or red gum chips.
Using pavers and red gum chips can create a
professional effect as the following picture I took the photo in a public
garden in a Brisbane suburb. Each 'front garden' along a street in the gardens had a different type of garden, one had a cottage garden of native plants, one was a European-style garden using natives,another was a rainforest garden and so on. All the gardens had paving, retaining walls and so on.
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